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Allen ISD Hacked, Sensitive Information Allegedly Held for Ransom

Education

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In an incident that occurred on September 20th, hackers allegedly attempted to access personal Allen Independent School District data and demanded ransom. The Allen ISD was asked for money in the sum of “millions” in ransom from the cyber-attack.

Allen ISD reported that their WiFi network had difficulties connecting starting mid-September and that it was shut down due to the attack. In June, Lanchester ISD also suffered a similar data breach in which hackers released the personal information of 500 teachers.

Allen ISD Superintendent Robin Bullock wrote to concerned parents on September 28th and said that the district has no intention of paying the hackers for the information. Bullock also assured that the district had no evidence that the hackers actually held any sensitive information, stating the attempt “largely failed.”

The district’s letter read, “While we have not seen any evidence that your personal information was exposed, I want you to know that Allen ISD takes your privacy and confidentiality seriously…”

However, as of October 4th, a new development in the hacker’s potential access to information has arisen. Parents, school staff, and students received emails from the cyber-attack group threatening to release the data and add on to the ransom if their demands were not met. The email begins with a very Texan greeting, “Staff and parents of Allen ISD, Howdy!”

NBC DFW reports that the email claimed the hackers would wait only “five days” to receive the ransom money. Allen ISD still maintains that they see no “credible evidence” pointing to any critical data being at risk.

Allen ISD parent and information security specialist Greg Harp said that he knows that most school districts are not ready for cyber-attacks. “They’re soft targets; school districts have a lot of very valuable information and are not very well equipped to protect it,” he told WFAA in an interview.

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